Speech of Heydar Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan, at the official dinner party organized by Statoil in his honor - Stavanger, April 25, 1996

Distinguished Minister!

Distinguished President!

Ladies and gentlemen!

I greet you all - the staff of Statoil, the population of Stavanger on behalf of the Azerbaijani people. I am delivering the friendly greetings of Azerbaijan, the Caucasus to Norway.

It is the second day of my official visit to your country at the invitation of the Norwegian Premier Mrs. Brundtland. I think that much work has been done, and new opportunities have emerged for the development of relations between out countries in these two days. Our negotiations with the King, Prime Minister and the Speaker of the parliament, and other officials of Norway, as well as the documents we signed with Mrs. Brundtland establish a solid foundation for the further development of the relations between Norway and Azerbaijan.

Statoil has an important role in the establishment and development of the relations between Norway and Azerbaijan. Norway is one of the first countries which recognized the independence of our country. Statoil is one of the first companies to cooperate with our country. These factors helped the establishment of relations between Norway and Azerbaijan; our meetings nowadays are a result of the attitude and interest shown by Norway to our country four years ago.

Since our arrival in Oslo, we have been feeling hospitality of the Norwegian government. Our meetings were led in a friendly environment. Statoil took part in all this.

Since our arrival we have been witnessing your achievements in economy and welfare. The achievements of Norway in the 20th century are incredible. They have been achieved thanks to the efforts of the Norwegian people. Statoil has a great role in these achievements, too.

As a friendly nation, we are glad for your achievements; I congratulate you on these successes.

Norway is young in oil production. Norway`s offshore oil production history ages 30 years. However, Azerbaijan has been an oil country from old times. Oil production in Azerbaijan began 150 years ago, and the offshore oil production - 50 years ago. The achievements and experience gained in the oil industry of Azerbaijan was used in many countries in the past. However, now Azerbaijan wants to profit from the experience of the leading countries in oil industry in order to develop the domestic oil industry. Thus, the successes and experience of Norway and Statoil are interesting and important for us.

Use of modern technology was the main factor of achievements of Statoil within a short period. The achievements gained thanks to the modern technology are interesting for us, too. We want to know and profit from your experience here.

The Norwegian-Azerbaijani cooperation in the field of oil industry and oil production is rapidly developing. Statoil takes an active part in development and exploitation of the oil deposits in the Azerbaijani Sector of the Caspian Sea. Statoil participated in the "Contract of the Century" signed on September 20. 1994. These factors establish an effective ground for the further development of our relations. I positively appreciate the results gained up to now thanks to our cooperation and believe in the expansion of our cooperation in future. I see the definite steps taken for this cooperation.

I think that the time we are going to spend here today and tomorrow will be useful for our further cooperation. I thank you for your hospitality. I believe in the bright future of the Norwegian-Azerbaijani cooperation.

The contract we signed with Statoil will be in force at least for 30 years. I think that our cooperation will continue more than 30 years. Other contracts will last for a long time. We can even say that the 21st century will be a century of the Norwegian-Azerbaijani cooperation.

Distinguished Minister, you mentioned that Norway is a democratic country. Indeed, the achievements of Norway in democracy are famous all over the world. It is a good example and an experience for us. Azerbaijan has chosen a democratic way of development, too. We want to use the achievements of democracy in our country. We have some successes in this field, and we have a bright future for the development of democracy. The Norwegian-Azerbaijani cooperation, as well as the joint work of Statoil and SOCAR demonstrates that Azerbaijan has chosen democracy and liberal economy and is closely tied with the world economy. Thus, we are not surprised by the strike of restaurant and hotel employees in Norway today. It is normal and it can not cause any trouble to our work. You are right that Statoil demonstrated not only its oil and gas production, but larger opportunities as well during the strike. I congratulate Statoil and its president on this achievement.

As for the dinner party, don`t worry, it isn`t organized in a bigger restaurant. We are pleased here; the place of the party doesn`t matter much for us. Your hospitality and kindness are more important for us.

I propose the toast for the happy future of Norway, for the Norwegian people, the King, the government, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Energy and Industry, as well as for Statoil. And for its further successes, the president of Statoil, for our Norwegian friends here, for the Norwegian-Azerbaijani friendship. Cheers. Thank you.